The most common reasons behind no power to dash or ignition are blown fuse, weak or dead battery, bad alternator, faulty ignition switch, wiring issues, damaged starter, worn-out dash bulbs, headlights are on, and changing the settings on the dimmer switch.
Keep reading this article to find out more about these issues in detail and learn how you can fix them to make your dash lights turn on again. You’ll no longer have to worry about why there are no dash lights when I turn the key once you complete this article. Let’s begin!
No Power To Dash Or Ignition [9 Easy Fixes]
It’s definitely a cause of concern when you see no lights on the dashboard. If you drive your car without seeing what’s on your dash, it can be dangerous. Here are the main reasons that could be causing no dash lights when you turn the key in your car:
1. Blown Fuse
When the fuse of the dashboard lights is blown, they won’t come on. You can check the fuse once you identify the location of the fuse. It can be located in your engine bay or the glove box depending on your vehicle.
Which fuse is for the dashboard lights? The fuse you want to check for your dashboard lights is the cluster fuse. They are also called the light fuse at times. Follow the diagram on the fuse box to know where it is and inspect it.
While you’re at it check all the fuses in the fuse box and make sure they’re fine. If any of them are blown, then you need to replace them. Otherwise, move on with this troubleshooting guide as there are many other potential causes that could be causing this problem.
If the fuse is blown, it can be easily replaced with a new one. If replacing the fuse keeps the dash lights on, then you’re good to go. But sometimes, fuses are blown because of other underlying issues.
So, if the fuse keeps on blowing, you need to inspect what’s causing it and fix it. Going to an expert mechanic for help is a good idea if it’s difficult for you to identify the real reason that’s blowing the fuse.
2. Weak Or Dead Battery
If your battery has run out of charge, it could keep the dash lights from coming on. Think of the last time you recharged your battery. If it has been a while, chances are that a dead battery is causing the problem.
Check the battery connection if you know that the batteries are fully charged. Sometimes, there is corrosion that makes the connection of the batteries weak. Twist the cables and posts and see if the dash lights come up.
If you see no ignition lights on dash as in they come on and go off immediately, that’s a good indicator of a discharged battery or corrosion in it. Check the voltage of the battery as well and make sure you’re getting at least 12 volts.
The first thing you should try is to check the battery for corrosion and clean it to make sure that the connection is good. If it still doesn’t work, check the charge of the battery and recharge it if necessary. You’d have to replace the battery if it has become faulty.
3. Bad Alternator
The main job of an alternator is to convert chemical energy into electrical energy. It converts the energy produced by the engine to electrical energy and uses it to power the electrical components in your car.
The dashboard is one of those components. It won’t get power if the alternator has gone bad as it requires electrical energy to turn on and display the lights. You can check if the alternator is damaged using a Midtronics tester. It’ll say that there’s a problem when something is wrong with the charging system.
One of the common symptoms of a bad alternator is that your battery will need to be constantly recharged. The alternator is also responsible for charging the battery. So, the battery needs frequent charging when it goes bad.
Other ways to diagnose a faulty alternator are that the dash lights will be dim or completely dead. The other electrical components will also work slowly because of a faulty alternator.
Once you’ve successfully diagnosed that you have a faulty alternator, you need to replace it with a new one. Replacing an alternator can cost a few hundred dollars if you hire a mechanic to do it.
But you can save the labor cost by replacing the alternator on your own. Follow these steps to replace the alternator in your car:
- Let the engine cool down to avoid any injury.
- Disconnect one of the battery terminals to protect the electrical system from any damage.
- Take off the electrical connections from the alternator.
- Unscrew the bolts that hold the alternator onto the engine.
- Take the old alternator out.
- Make sure your battery is fully charged before putting on the new alternator.
- Put the new alternator back in once the battery is charged.
That’s how you can replace the alternator in your car. Tighten the bolts, and connect the wires and battery terminals to seal the alternator in place.
4. Faulty Ignition Switch
If your car has no electrical power at all, a faulty ignition switch could be the culprit behind it. The ignition switch sends the signal to the battery to start the car when you put the key in it and turn it.
It can wear out with time and begin to malfunction due to overheating. When it goes bad, there will be no power to ignition. Check if your ignition switch has power with a tester and also check the ignition relay while you’re at it.
If the ignition relay has gone bad, you need to replace the ignition switch. If there’s no power to the ignition switch and it has been damaged, you need to replace it. It won’t cost much if you know how to do it yourself.
5. Wiring Issues
If there are any issues with the wires that cause a break in the circuit, your dash lights will not come on. You’ll hear no sound when turning key in ignition when there are wiring issues in your car.
Wiring issues are caused because of the high number of bumps and vibrations that a car faces when it’s on the road. Rodents or insects can also get to the wires and damage them.
A loose connection can also break the electrical system and keep the dash lights from turning on. It can be difficult to inspect your car’s wiring on your own as you need wiring diagrams and electrical know-how to diagnose it.
Hire a mechanic to figure out if there are any wiring issues in your car. If they are identified, they’re normally very easy to fix. He’ll just replace the chewed-out wires or loose connections and get your electrical circuit back to normal operating condition once again.
6. Damaged Starter
You should check the starter if your car has no power but battery is good. It’s a small motor that draws power from the battery to start your car. You’d often hear a clicking noise when the starter fails.
It can happen due to the starter going bad itself or when any of the connections have gotten loose. Check the wires and fusible links leading to the starter and ensure that they’re good.
Inspect the starter fuse and starter relay as well and make sure they’re fine and getting power. If either of those has gone bad, replace them before you go ahead and replace the starter.
Follow these steps to replace the starter in your car if it’s damaged:
- Disconnect the positive terminal of the battery so that it doesn’t power the battery and short anything.
- Unscrew the bolts that keep the starter in its place.
- Use a socket wrench with an extension if any of the bolts are hard to access.
- Take off the wires that are connected to the starter.
- You can pull out the old starter and replace it with a new one.
After putting the new starter in, connect the wires and screw the bolts making sure that it’s set up nice and tight as you don’t want it to fall off. Put the battery cable back on and see if replacing the starter solves your problem.
7. Worn-Out Dash Bulbs
The dash lights can themselves become faulty after prolonged use. While it’s unlikely that all of them will go out at once, there’s still a possibility that all of them have burned out because of excess current. That is more so the case if the cluster fuse is blown.
This problem will only occur in older vehicles. They have incandescent bulbs that can be worn out with time. But modern cars have LED lights instead of bulbs and it’s not likely that they will become damaged.
Take apart your information cluster and see if the dash bulbs are burned out. If they are toasted, you need to replace them with new ones and your dash lights will work fine again when you turn the key in the ignition.
8. Headlights Are On
Many modern cars are designed to lower the power of the dashboard lights and dim them or kill them completely when the headlights are on. So, if you see no dash lights when headlights are on, it’s completely normal.
When you turn in the key and see that the dash lights haven’t come in, you may think why don’t my dashboard lights work. But if the headlights are on during that time, they won’t come on.
There isn’t really much of a problem here. You just need to realize that it’s a common working mechanism for cars. You’ll be able to adjust the settings in some cars and turn up the dash lights even when headlights are on.
But if your car doesn’t have that function, turn off the headlights when you turn the key and your dashboard lights should come in if they were causing the problem.
9. Changing The Settings On Dimmer Switch
Another reason why there are no dash lights when key is turned on is if you’ve accidentally lowered the settings on the dimmer switch. This switch controls how bright the dash lights will be in your car.
You may think nothing happens when I turn the key but turning down the level of this dimmer switch could be the reason behind it.
Check the dimmer light switch and see if you’ve lowered the setting on it. Put them back to normal if you’ve manipulated them and your dashboard lights will be functioning normally like before.
How to fix a bad connection in the electrical components in your car?
Disconnect the connectors to the battery and apply dielectric lube to them so that you can clear the corrosion in the pin of the connectors. Reconnect them to the battery and that should make the connection good.
Why are my dash lights on without key in ignition?
If your dashboard lights are on even after you’ve removed the key from the ignition, the most likely reason behind is a faulty ignition switch. Replace the ignition switch and see if that solves the problem.
Why did all my dash lights come on?
The most common reason behind all the dash lights in your car coming on at once is a fault with the alternator or the charging system. Replacing the alternator can keep all the dash lights from coming on at once.
Will dashboard lights drain the battery?
Dashboard lights don’t have a major impact on the battery and won’t drain it as they require little electricity to power. Your battery will be more drained by the interior lights or door lights compared to the dash lights.
It can be frustrating when there’s no power to dash or ignition in your vehicle. But now you know the main reasons that cause this problem.
We hope this guide will help you identify the exact reason that causes your dash lights to turn off and help you fix it. Leave a comment below if you have any questions or want to know more about common dashboard light problems.